Flix Films has created a special Royal Trinity/Flix Films playlist using VR material readily available to the public that has been screened for content and appropriateness. The residents can choose any of the experiences in the playlist, although most opt for one that is evocative of a memorable place or experience. They choose a place they wish to go back to or something they wish they could still be able to do or experience for the first time.
Each VR session is brief, at 3 minutes long, because some residents may get dizzy from the experience. Residents who respond well can request a total of 4 sessions. Patients seem to understand the concept, if only in the abstract. Many are skeptical, but curious. “It’s fantastic to watch the patients’ faces change during their first VR experience!” said Perna-Forrest. Although people seem delighted with the experience, the VR team hopes their study will help them understand the obvious psychological and physiological effects of VR. For example, one middle-aged resident with cancer began to cry as she removed the headset, explaining to her nurse that the VR experience had given her joy, which she had not felt for a long time.
Complements Nursing Care
The nursing staff tells the VR team that they are excited to see the technology being used in this way. The hospice nurses feel the VR experience gives residents the opportunity to leave their beds, leave the unit, and escape to another place that is not about death, dying, or even being a hospice resident.
“There is a wonderful buzz about VR amongst staff. Many have never tried it for themselves, so there is also curiosity from their end,” Perna-Forrest explained. For residents who have tried the VR experience, it has led new conversations with the nurses and new sharing of experiences and memories. The Trinity team believes VR enriches the resident experience and complements the care nurses and other health care professionals give.
To explore its benefits further, the Trinity team is preparing to launch a formal study on the effect of a VR experience at the end of life. They look forward to helping other facilities adopt this new technology.
1. Royal Trinity Hospice. https://www.royaltrinityhospice.london. Accessed July 26, 2017.
2. BBC One Inside Out London. Virtual reality helps hospice patients. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04yxc8z. April 3, 2017. Accessed July 24, 2017.